|Topical Bible Study||January 1961|
The “Seed”—Article X
Ruling, Judging, Restoring
“I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.” —Jeremiah 31:33
FOLLOWING the transgression of our first parents, God said that the “seed” of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head. (Gen. 3:15) This highly figurative statement really meant the stamping out of all unrighteousness in the earth, and ultimately the destruction of Satan himself. Later the Lord promised that the “Seed” of Abraham would bless all the families of the earth, and in the light of the divine plan it becomes plain that this blessing involves the reconciliation of the human race to God, and all the willing and obedient being blessed with health, happiness, and everlasting life.—Gen. 12:3; 22:16-18
In the outworking of his plan for the accomplishment of this grand design God furnished an opportunity to the nation of Israel to attain righteousness and life by their own efforts to keep his perfect Law. Because of inherited sin and imperfections the people failed, demonstrating the necessity of a Redeemer from sin, and of the provisions God had made for the reconciliation and restoration of the people during the thousand years of the messianic kingdom.
One of these provisions is the New Covenant, concerning which the Lord said, “The days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”—Jer. 31:31-34
In this prophecy the Lord foreshows that the law of the New Covenant, instead of being written on tables of stone, is to be written in the hearts of the people, and in their inward parts. This is one of the ways by which the Bible describes the restoration of mankind to the original perfection and godlikeness in which Adam was created. This promised writing of the law in the hearts of the people is not an instantaneous work, but the work of an entire age, the Millennial Age, “the times of restitution of all things.”—Acts 3:21
How is this great work to be accomplished? Our finite minds cannot understand the details, but the Scriptures inform us of the agencies and methods to be employed. Basically, it will be accomplished by the Holy Spirit, for we are informed that the Lord will pour out his Spirit upon all flesh. (Joel 2:28) To help us grasp in some manner at least just how the Spirit, or power of God will manifest itself in the lives of the people during the Millennium, the Bible speaks of the rulership of Christ’s kingdom, and reveals that the thousand years of that kingdom will also be a time of judgment.
Thus we have the Millennial Age presented to us as a time when Christ will reign, when he will judge, and when he will write the divine law in the hearts of the people. These are not three separate works, but co-operative methods by which man is to be restored to the image of God, and qualified to have his lost dominion restored to him. It is not that Christ will be King part of the time, Judge part of the time, and Mediator of the New Covenant part of the time. It is the ideas suggested by these various terms that are important, for they help us to understand how the great objective of the new age will be accomplished.
The Kingdom and Judgment
FIRST let us consider what is implied by a kingdom. This word denotes rulership, control. The basic thought is contained in The Lord’s Prayer—“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.” The thousand-year rulership of the messianic kingdom will put down all insubordination to the Creator’s law so that, at the end, there will be no opposition to his will.—Matt. 6:10
Paul wrote that Christ will reign until all enemies are put under his feet, and that “the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (I Cor. 15:25,26) During Christ’s reign, no insurrection against divine law will be tolerated. His rulership will be absolute. Thus the people will be restrained from following their sinful propensities, and any attempt to do so will result in disciplines, while willing obedience to the kingdom laws will result in rich rewards of peace and happiness.
What this will mean in changing the viewpoints and motives of the people can be seen more clearly by noting the fact that, hand in hand with the strict imposition of divine law to control the lives of the people, there will also be the work of judging, for the new age is also to be “the judgment day.” The word judgment, as used with respect to the work of the Millennial Age, implies enlightenment, disciplines, rewards for faithfulness, and punishment for willful sin.
Isaiah 26:9, 10 reads, “With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Let favor be showed to the [willfully] wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord.”
Another prophecy of the judgment day reads, “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”—Rev. 20:12
Paul, in his sermon on Mars’ hill, in a reference to the idolatry of the people, said, “The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained [Jesus Christ the righteous]; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”—Acts 17:30,31
And then we have the promise of the coming work of judgment, which was given by Jesus. We quote, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment [Revised Version].”—John 5:28,29
Thus Isaiah, John, and Paul all indicate that enlightenment will be an important aspect of the work of judgment. Isaiah wrote that the people will “learn righteousness.” John states that the “books” of divine revelation will be opened; and Paul contrasts the “times of this ignorance” with the day the Lord has appointed in which to judge the world.
Isaiah speaks of the time of judgment as one in which favor will be shown, although the willfully wicked will not benefit from it, for they will refuse to behold the majesty of the Lord. John reveals that with the opening of the books of divine revelation, a “book of life” will also be opened, that the names of those who conform to the things “written in the books” might have their names enrolled therein.
Enlightenment and Blessing
SO THE day of judgment will be one of enlightenment and blessing. The knowledge of the Lord will then fill the earth, as the waters cover the sea. (Isa. 11:9) The rule of righteousness will be rigid and unyielding, but the people will be taught the advantages of obedience and righteousness. A blind obedience will not be required. Those who obey the kingdom laws understandingly and willingly will recognize the Lord’s blessings upon them. Those who knowingly and willfully oppose, will be punished. If their disobedience continues, they will be punished with “second death.”
And how unerring the judgments will be! There will be no opportunity to feign obedience. Referring to Jesus, the supreme Judge, Isaiah wrote, “The Spirit of the Lord shall be upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of the eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove [margin, argue] with equity for the meek of the earth.”—Isa. 11:3,4
What remarkable changes will be brought about by the rulership and judgments of Christ and his church! When men transgressed God’s law, he “gave them up” or permitted the people to follow their own sinful ways. (Rom. 1:24) Throughout all the six thousand years of human experience selfishness has been, in the main, the motive for all that has been said and done. Over and above this is the fact that Satan has exercised his influence in the hearts, and over the lives, of the people. The result of this has been a drifting farther and farther away from God, and a sinking deeper and deeper into degradation and sin.
But, with the rulership of the messianic kingdom, all this will be reversed. Satan will be bound. (Rev. 20:2) Instead of his evil spirit of sin and selfishness dominating the minds of men, the Spirit of the Lord will make itself felt through the agencies of the kingdom. The people will be instructed in the ways and will of the Lord. Evil will be restrained and willful transgression punished, while righteousness will be rewarded.
It will be under this hallowed influence and judgment work of the kingdom that the law of God will be written in the hearts of the people. They will learn the rightness of God’s ways, and will want to do his will, and with this wholehearted desire for righteousness becoming the motivating principle of life, divine power will assist in removing inherited imperfections, and thus the law of God will not only reign supreme in the hearts of those thus restored, but will find expression in their every thought, word, and act, to the great joy and blessing of all with whom they come in contact.
It will require the entire Millennium to complete this work on behalf of the entire human race. The work of “making” the New Covenant will begin, as the prophecy states, “with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.” This indicates that, geographically, the messianic kingdom authority will first manifest itself in the land of Israel, the Promised Land. This is why so many of the natural descendants of Abraham are now being settled in that land. But it will quickly spread, for “all the families of the earth” are thus to be blessed. When God changed Abram’s name to Abraham he revealed that the “seed” to be blessed would not be merely one nation, but “many nations.”—Gen. 17:5
The ancient servants of God, who received the testimony that they pleased him, and thus proved worthy of a “better resurrection,” will be perfect when awakened from the sleep of death. Since at heart they loved God and his law more than life itself, they will, from the first, be in the New Covenant relationship, and in their perfection and righteousness of heart and body, will exemplify it before all over whom they rule as “princes.”—Heb. 11:13,35,39,40; Ps. 45:16
When the dead are awakened from the sleep of death they will be, at heart, and in their general outlook and demeanor, essentially the same as when they died, so the work of writing the law in the hearts of the people will need to continue throughout the age until all have been awakened from death, and taught to obey and respond heartily to the law of God.
Throughout the Millennium Christ will serve as Mediator of the New Covenant, and his glorified church will be associated with him. At the close of the age, when all the willingly obedient of mankind will have been restored to human perfection, with the law of God written in their inward parts, a Mediator will no longer be needed, for all will have the ability to live in complete harmony with every divine requirement.
The Creator does not coerce the minds of his intelligent creatures. He permitted our first parents to sin, and has allowed the people to continue in their evil ways from one generation to another throughout the ages. The Creator knew that this experience with evil would serve his human creatures well when they would have the opportunity to observe and experience the blessings of the way of true righteousness.
Thus, experimentally, mankind will have a knowledge of both good and evil, and will be given a free choice between the two. Those who choose to be willing, wholehearted, and loyal subjects of the kingdom will reap the rich rewards of righteousness. At the close of the thousand years they will be fully reconciled to God, and restored to absolute human perfection, mentally, morally, and physically. They will be at peace with God, and with one another, and all tears will be wiped away.—Isa. 25:8; Rev. 21:1-5
Those who then choose to continue in their evil ways of opposition to divine law will be destroyed from among the people. (Acts 3:23) These are the ones who, in “the land of uprightness,” or when righteous laws of the kingdom prevail throughout the earth, will attempt to “deal unjustly,” and refuse to behold “the majesty of the Lord,” and to bow to his holy will. (Isa. 26:10) These will not be permitted to live and mar the happiness of those who turn to righteousness and are restored to perfection.—Isa. 11:9; Micah 4:3,4
With the kingdom and judgment work fully accomplished, and all who choose righteousness fully reconciled to God, and his law written in their inward parts, “they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer. 31:34) “Who shall not fear [reverence] thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.”—Rev. 15:4